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Deployed to the Philippines

First contact with the Japanese as Prisoner

POW and guerilla fighting

Work detail under Japanese guards

The war ends

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Tenney joined the National Guard in November of 1940. He joined to get his year of service completed before the draft started up. He became a member of the 192nd Tank Battalion and his unit was mobilized into Federal Service on Thanksgiving Day of 1940. They went to Fort Knox, Kentucky. While out on maneuvers they were told that they were the best tank company there was and were sent overseas for duty. They arrived in the Philippines on Thanksgiving Day of 1941. It was not long after, that the war started, on December 8 in the Philippines.Tenney remembers not hearing much talk at the beginning about going to war with Japan. Once they were told that they were going overseas, they realized that there were problems with Japan. They were not sure they were going to fight Japan until they got to San Francisco and found out that they would be going to the Philippines. That was the first time they knew. Then when they got aboard the ship leaving Hawaii, they were told it was going to travel "blackout" because of Japanese ships and they did not want to take any chances. Tenney felt it was obvious that there was something going on.Upon arriving at the Philippines, Tenney was billeted at Fort Stotsenburg, adjacent to Clark Field, twenty miles out of Manila. He was there until the morning of December 8. At 5:30 in the morning he was told that the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. They were loaded into a truck and into tanks and taken out to Clark Field, where the tanks were put around the field to protect against the potential of Japanese parachuters [Annotators Note: Paratroopers]. They were on alert until the Japanese dropped the bombs at 12:35 that afternoon.Tenney remembered that the Japanese landed around Lingayen Gulf around December 21st or 22nd [Annotators Note: 1941]. His Company of Tanks was ordered there to meet the Japanese. When they went up there, they were told that there would be small arms fire and few troops. They found thirty thousand Japanese troops, flamethrowers, tank guns, armored vehicles, tanks, everything. The whole Army was up there, but they were never told that.Tenney and his Company went there with their tanks but the Post Ordnance only brought enough gasoline for five tanks and they had thirty. Therefore they only had five tanks able to go into battle. The lead tank was hit the very first day on December 23rd and had to get off the road and into a rice patty. The other tanks had to "beat ass out" as there was no way they could get in with no place to go. Not only was there no place to go, but they were against odds of antitank guns and flamethrowers. The other four tanks turned and got out. The first tank that was hit Captain Ben Mornan and all four of the other men were captured on December 23rd. That was the first tank battle of World War II.They went back to their bivouac area in Agoo and were told that they were going to make a strategic withdrawal, otherwise known as a retreat, into Bataan. The "strategic withdrawal" was the artillery leaving first and setting up positions about five or six miles away. Then the infantry left to follow the artillery. Then, the tanks stayed to protect against the Japanese coming in while they were moving back to the rear echelon. Once they got about eight miles back they started the process again and piggy-backed all the way back into Bataan.In Bataan, the Japanese had formed a line at the Pilar - Bagac road, with Pilar on one side and Bagac on the other side, at the base of Bataan. All the Japanese were there. Tenney states that their job was to keep them there. Every few days, there would be a pocket and the Japanese would try to come into their area and the tanks would attempt push the pockets back up again.Tenney remembered that they were promised supplies and some new guns, they were using Springfield rifles from 1917 and they were using ammunition that was thirty-five to forty years old that wouldn't fire, it would clog a gun up. They knew if they were going to get new supplies, new ammunition, and new equipment that they would make it. They kept getting promises almost every day saying that reinforcements are on the way; new arms, and new ammunition. This was designed to keep them fighting, but of course nothing ever came.Tenney realized that the fight was over and that the Japanese would be successful on April 3rd [Annotators Note: 1942]. On April 3rd there was a big push and the Japanese brought in another 30,000 troops on their way to Australia. Their reinforcements were so many that it was at the point where they would fire a machine gun and its barrel would just curl up from the heat and they'd have to move. The Japanese just kept coming one on top of each other. It made no difference. By the 9th of April, it became quite obvious that there was no place to go. They already had water on all three sides and they were already pushed down within 150 to 200 yards of the water. General King [Annotator's Note: General Edward Postell King Jr.] had orders from General MacArthur [Annotator's Note: General Douglas MacArthur] to continue to fight down to the last man, but General King said he couldn't do it. He couldn't see the men slaughtered that way, so he surrendered the forces on Bataan.Surrendering made the men cry, the mere fact that they were surrendering was a horrible thing. Tenney thinks also that the word surrender meant that they would be at the mercy of the Japanese. They had already heard about Americans the Japanese had captured and the rumors of what they did to them. 

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Tenney's first contact with the Japanese was on the morning of the 10th [Annotator’s Note: April 10, 1942] in a bivouac area near Marvales. He heard Japanese voices coming up the road and that was one of the first Japanese he met. They looked at him and started to speak Japanese to him. He didn't know what they wanted. After they said it two or three times and he didn't do anything, they started to hit him and beat him with a rifle butt and a cane. They beat him in the face and the back of the neck until he finally found out they wanted a cigarette. He didn't have one because he didn't smoke so they beat him again. That was his first contact with the Japanese.The Japanese put them all together and made them walk to the road. They stayed there about two or three hours and were not allowed to talk. Some men had their hands tied behind their back and some didn't, it depended on how the Japanese felt. There was no specific way in how they treated the Americans. It was just every man for himself. They were picked up from their bivouac area and if they had shoes on then they wore shoes. If you were picked up without shoes on, then you didn't have shoes that day. If you had a canteen, then you had a canteen. If you didn't have it with you, you didn't have it on the march. There was no such thing as going back for anything. Once they started to push you, you didn't go back because if you went back you were killed.They waited on the road for the Japanese to tell them what to do. Finally after two or three hours, they heard a lot of men marching and then they pushed them into line and that was the start of the Bataan March. Tenney remembered one man said he wanted to go back and get something out of his bivouac area and the Japanese shot him right in the back. There was no question. It doesn't take more than one killing to make you aware of the fact that they are not joking.Tenney noted that he heard a POW [Annotator's Note: prisoner of war] from Europe say that he told the Germans his name, rank, and serial number and "by God that's all I'm giving you!" That wouldn't have happened in Japan. If you said that to a Japanese guard, he would have had a bayonet through you or cut your head off right then and there. Being captured by the Germans was a lot different than being captured by the Japanese.Tenney recalls that there was no food or water on the death march. You kept walking the best way you could. There was no marching, just trudging. Most of the men were sick with malaria or dysentery, or they had gunshot wounds. He didn't think that there was five percent that were really able to make the march from a health point of view.They started to walk and just kept walking. Occasionally, after the second day, they were out of the area of the fighting in Bataan and some of the Filipino people began to throw them food. They would throw them rice balls or sugar cane or banana leaf with a piece of chicken in it. You would grab whatever you could and take a bite and then give it to the guy next to you to take a bite. That's how they survived the first couple of days. There was no form to the punishment by the Japanese of the Filipinos, the Japanese one minute could laugh at the Filipinos for giving them food and then five minutes later take a gun out and shoot them for giving the Americans food. There was no rationale; there was no way of knowing what they would do from one minute to the next.Tenney guesses there were maybe ten Japanese guards to every thirty or forty American men walking. You never knew who was going to be next to you because the Japanese would hit somebody in the back with the butt of their rifle and all of the sudden you were next to somebody else.Different groups marched different amounts of time. Tenney remembers it took him ten days to make the full march. Some made it in four days, some made it in twelve days. He knew one man who made it in four hours on the back of a truck. He thinks he was just in the right place at the right time.Tenney states that usually a man would fall down on the march and the Japanese would yell at him to get up. In most cases they would yell, but he saw a case where the Japanese didn't even bother yelling. A man fell down and the Japanese took a bayonet and stuck him with it. He also saw situations where the Japanese were pushing a man, kicking him and yelling at him to get up, not that he understood them at the time, but it was obvious that they were saying to get up and move on. This went on for three or four minutes. If the man didn't move on, then they would kill him, usually with a bullet. In a few cases it was with a bayonet. In a couple of cases, an officer would come up and would want to show how he did it with a samurai and he would cut a person's head off. In one case they saw the Japanese bury a man alive. He wasn't dead, but they had to bury him. Tenney questions, "What do you do when you are told to bury somebody?" If the person refuses, the Japanese put a gun to his head and shoot him. Then he calls two more men out and says to dig two holes and says put that man in one of the holes. You've already seen what is going to happen and if you say no then you'll be the next one dead. You put the man in the whole and he's alive or they'll put you in the whole and you're dead. Those are the kind of decisions you had to make in many cases on a moment to moment basis.These decisions are the hard things to deal with and the psychological problems that most men from Bataan are facing even today. Tenney feels guilty many times, even today, that he's back, that he's leading such a wonderful life and that a lot of his friends didn't come back. There isn't much he can do about it, but he feels guilty and feels like they were better than him. He thinks that all Bataan survivors feel the same.Tenney and the men on the Death March were headed to Camp O'Donnell, the first prison camp. Once you arrived there it was death warmed over. There was one ration of rice a day, one glass of water if you were able to make it to the spigot, and men were dying at forty to fifty men a day. They were dying from malaria and dysentery; those that had dysentery had body waste all over them and couldn't control themselves. Tenney recalls that the stink was awful and that many of them would go to sleep at night next to a slit trench so that they could roll over a little bit in the middle of the night and defecate into the trench. That is how these men lived and that is how they died.

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Those with dysentery didn't live very long. Dehydration, lack of food, lack of water, the sickness, it was awful. Tenney guesses that in Camp O'Donnell there were about 2,000 men in the camp while he was there. It was awful and there is really no way to describe it. Tenney was only there for four days when he went out on a water detail to bring water into the camp from a little stream. He realized he was able to escape because the guards never counted them and had no idea how many were there. He went out the next day on water detail and hid behind a tree and dropped his pants. The idea behind this was that if he was caught he could say he was going to the bathroom, if they didn't catch him then he could escape. The water detail left him there and within five minutes an American Guerilla tapped him on the shoulder and had been watching the whole thing. Tenney went to camp with the guerillas and was with them for about two weeks until he was recaptured while out on a detail. When he was recaptured he was tortured and then they took him in a truck back to Camp O'Donnell. They tossed him out of the truck when they arrived at the camp.Tenney was sad about the event because his friends back at Camp O'Donnell hadn’t even realized he was away. They had not seen him for several weeks and assumed he was in zero ward - where you went to die. The medics set this barracks up and once you went there you were dying.Tenney was recaptured in the Filipino hut at four o'clock in the morning. He was turned in by a Filipino boy for a reward of a sack of rice. He awoke with a Japanese soldier standing over him and a bayonet stuck through his leg. He had been told to not let them know he had been on the death march and let them assume he was always a guerilla. If the Japanese thought that they were on the death march and escaped, then they would have killed him. The guerillas told him what to say, but it didn't matter as he was still tortured. He was tortured by having his thumbs tied around a piece of bamboo and having the bamboo hung up for a day in a half. He was beaten and also water boarded by having his nose held and having a tea kettle pour water down his throat so it felt like he was drowning. The Japanese would do this until you either died or they got tired. In Tenney's case they got tired and let him go. He was sent back to O'Donnell for a second time and was there about three more days until they started looking for another work detail. He volunteered because he felt like he had to get out of the camp since so many were dying there.Tenney was put into a group of ninety men that were taken back to Bataan on a truck to salvage metal and iron to send back to Japan. He went back with blowtorches and trucks and they had to cut scrap metal and put on trucks to take to Manila. Tenney volunteered for anything just to stay out of the camp. He was in Bataan for about three more months in a bivouac area under tents. Then after the three months, they were sent to Cabanatuan, the new prison camp.Once he got back to Cabanatuan, he was there for about a week until he was told that he and five hundred other men were being sent to Japan. The ninety men that he was on detail with were sent together to Japan. They got the men to Manila and put them aboard a ship. He had no idea why he was picked to go.The ships they went to Japan on were called "hell ships.” His ship had five hundred men in a hold and that ship had just been used for horses and th hold had horse urine and horse manure all over it. Five hundred men were crammed together and had to sit and take turns sitting. They had one ration of rice, one glass of water, and one empty bucket for body waste a day. They lived that way for 32 days going to Japan. If you tried to get out of the hold, then they would shoot you.Upon arriving in Japan, they were taken to an area where they stripped down and were deloused, given Japanese clothes to wear and put aboard a train for a Japanese town named Namuda. They found out the next day that they would be working in a coal mine. Tenney's mine was owned by Matsuai [Annotator's Note: Spelling unknown] with fifty men to a barrack. Certain barracks did exploration, others drilled and other barracks would shovel coal. The barracks would all rotate shifts for work. In the barracks you slept on the floor and were given a mat and one blanket to sleep on. The barracks were divided into rooms with ten rooms and about five men to a room, each with a sliding door, with fifty men to a barracks. There was a latrine at the end of the barracks with four stools or stoops they were able to sit in. The conditions weren't too bad. Their role was to work in the coal mine and that barracks became your home. Their food ration was three rations of rice a day.

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Tenney didn't feel that three rations of rice a day, at about four and a half ounces a ration, was good. He felt it was very skimp. He was 185 pounds when he went to the Philippines and weighed 97 pounds when the war ended. That was pretty standard for surviving POWs [Annotator’s Note: prisoners of war] of Japan.Tenney felt that the men captured from Corregidor were in much better health than those from Bataan. So in Cabanatuan prison camp, the men from Corregidor were in pretty respectable health. They were eating food up to the last day and they didn't make the Death March, they weren't beaten and didn't face malaria or dysentery like the Bataan prisoners. By the time they got to Japan, though, they were just like the Bataan prisoners.The Japanese guards in Japan were mean to the POWs. They would slap you around and you had to bow to them whenever you saw one. That means if you saw one that was three blocks away, you had to face him and bow. If you failed to you were beaten for it. They were very strict on what they did, you followed orders or you were beaten. If you did some of the wrong things you were beaten severely and sometimes put in the guard house. One of Tenney's friends ended up stealing a couple of rations of rice and was put into a torture position where at the end of four days he had to have his legs amputated. This was because he was put on a rack where he had to kneel with bamboo behind his legs cutting off his circulation. So at the end of the four days the American doctors cut his legs off.One man was put into the guard house without food or water for thirty days. On the thirtieth day he died. These are the things that happened; they were inhumane, cruel, sadistic, and barbaric. The things they did were not necessary. The American POWs were working in the coal mines for the betterment of the Japanese economy. What the Japanese should have done was everything in their power to keep the POWs healthy and happy. This is what showed Tenney that they were really barbaric. He feels it would have been so easy to keep the men fed, give them medical care when needed, etc. Instead the men started to break bones to avoid work. Break an arm, leg, collar bone, anything to get out of work. Some breaks would get you a day off of work while others would get you three days off of work. A collarbone would get you four days off of work while a leg would get you three days off of work, an arm would get you two days.Tenney broke a hand and a foot. He said you take your hand and put it on a piece of wood in the coal mine when no one is looking. Then you grab a steel pin that holds the coal cars together. Then you take the pin and put it on your hand and hit it as hard as you can. If you are lucky then it breaks. Then you pour coal dust on it and take a piece of coal and rub it on your arm so you can tell the Japanese it was a cave-in. When the Japanese would come by you would point to the ceiling and show them how it caved in and hit you right there. If you were hurt in the coal mine then you were given full rations when you got back to camp. If you were hurt in camp, you only got half rations. If you didn't go to work because you had a cold, sore throat or malaria, then that was half rations. If you broke an arm in camp, then you got half rations, but if you broke a hand in a coal mine then you got full rations. There were a lot of things you had to know to be a good POW and survive.Tenney worked in the coal mine for three years, every day for twelve hours a day. Every ten days they would have a change of shifts and get a day off. Tenney developed the entertainment in camp. He would write a show, direct it, bring different people in to sing or to act. They would rehearse when they had a chance and then would put on a show when they had one of those ten day breaks. He put on the "Great Siegfried." He had eight of the greatest gay men you've ever heard who ended up dressing as girls for them. They were wonderful people that wanted to dress as girls and dance. They acted beautifully and you couldn't ask for anything better.The Japanese allowed the entertainment after the POWs explained to them that they had very low morale and would work better if they had better morale. They could do shows, but they still had to go to work every day.Tenney never saw a Red Cross person or Red Cross box. They also never received any war news, except for President Roosevelt's death and they were told that the war would end soon.Tenney felt that the Japanese must have believed their government’s propaganda. While he was in prison camp, he had a Japanese worker in the coal mine show him a picture from a Tokyo newspaper that showed a Japanese soldier walking with an American movie star down Hollywood and Vine. The Japanese worker believed that the Japanese were in California! The worker thought the war would be over soon. Tenney also had to assume that the coal miners were of the lower quality of education. They would believe anything, which is why they were in the coal mine. The Japanese that were working with them in the coal mine were ignorant, dumb, lazy and sick. That is where Tenney learned Japanese.

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Tenney did not believe the photo he saw of the Japanese soldier in Hollywood star and started laughing at it. The Japanese coal miner became furious and picked up a shovel and hit him in the face, shoulder and back. He was furious that he wouldn't believe him.Tenney realized the Japanese were losing the war in the first part of 1945. He learned this from the attitude of the Japanese, the bombing raids and the need for the POWs [Annotator’s Note: Prisoners of war] to go to air raid shelters. At one point fighter planes flew over their camp and waved with their wings and took off. The POWs had a pretty good idea what was going on.New prisoners did arrive from Manila, but Tenney thinks the last ones came in around January 1945. These men didn't have any new information as many of them had been in the Philippines as long as Tenney was a POW. They weren't newly captured troops.When Tenney and the POWs saw the fighter planes fly by they knew the war would be over soon. They also saw the explosion of the atomic bomb in Nagasaki because their camp was only 32 miles from there. They didn't know what it was, but they knew something was up. Tenney and the men heard the explosion and saw the big massive cloud. The war ended on August 15th for the POWs and on the 17th, B-29s [Annotator’s Note: American B-29 Superfortress bombers] came over the camp and opened up the bomb-bay doors and started dropping food and clothing by parachutes. The cooks on the planes were opening cans of fruit salad and pouring the cans into 55 gallon drums and put parachutes on the drums and drop the fruit salad down to the prisoners. When the can hit the ground and burst, men would be on their hands and knees eating the fruit salad.Tenney knew the war was over by four things that happened. One, there was no work; two, there was all the rice they wanted; three, Red Cross boxes began arriving; four, the prisoners didn’t have to bow to the Japanese. On August 15, 1945 the Japanese sent the Americans POWs back from work and gave each of them a Red Cross box at 10AM. At Noon they offered everybody all the rice they wanted. Then at 4PM they bowed to the men and didn't make them bow. At 5PM, the Japanese officer came in and said that America and Japan are now friends and then he left.At first, the POWs were so shocked that they didn't seek revenge. On the second day, they went looking for the guards, but they had left. If they hadn’t, the Americans probably would have killed them. Interestingl enough, by the second day, most of the Americans were just interested in girls and whisky. They went into town and would end up in inns and cities and were drinking sake with the girls and the men. They were having fun.Tenney was injured badly in the coal mine and his left arm was going to be taken off by the American doctors. When the war ended, he heard the doctors talking about amputating his arm and he and his friend left. Tenney wasn't going to let them cut his arm off. He had heard news from a George Weller from the Chicago Daily News that came into their camp on August 30th. Weller told them that the Americans had landed on Kanoia [Annotator’s Note: spelling unknown] and that there was such a thing as an Atomic bomb. Americans were still flying over and dropping food to the POWs. When Tenney heard his arm would be amputated, he said to his friend, Bobby Martin, that they had to leave. They got on a streetcar and got to the train station and went looking for Kanoia. Five days later they found Kanoia and found the Air Force there and were flown to Okinawa where Tenney met his brother. His brother had met some other POWs and heard that his brother may be coming through. He stayed there even though he had enough points to go home. Sure enough when Tenney landed, his brother was there and called out his name. He stayed with him for three days at Okinawa. He was taken from there to Manila where they had the 29th Replacement Depot where he had to stay until he gained a little weight. Mid-October he was finally put aboard the Cliffontaine [Annotator’s Note: spelling unknown] and was sent home.Tenney was supposed to go through San Francisco, but instead landed in Seattle. It was a very sad day because they docked in Seattle and there was nobody there to greet them, no officer, no parade, nothing. They got off the ship and felt that the Japanese were right when they said that they were lower than dogs. They were put on a truck that took them to a camp nearby where they were given a place to sleep. The next day they were on a truck and taken to the train station. Tenney got on that train and headed for Clinton, Iowa to the hospital. When they got to St. Louis, they were so embarrassed that they didn't want anyone to know that there were POWs onboard so they pulled the shades down. They were made to feel like cowards or dogs. They were never even said hello to when getting off the docks. They had seen pictures about the boys coming home and waving flags welcoming them. Tenney and these men didn't get a greeting. That has stayed with him all of his life. Not that he was looking for any parade, but he feels it would have been nice to have someone say welcome home and good job after four years of POW camp living.Tenney spent a year in the hospital before he was discharged. Then he went back to school at Northwestern University to get a degree and went to work. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in business and accounting and his Masters degree in Business and his PhD in Finance.

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Tenney joined the National Guard in November of 1940. He joined to get his year of service completed before the draft started up. He became a member of the 192nd Tank Battalion and his unit was mobilized into Federal Service on Thanksgiving Day of 1940. They went to Fort Knox, Kentucky. While out on maneuvers they were told that they were the best tank company there was and were sent overseas for duty. They arrived in the Philippines on Thanksgiving Day of 1941. It was not long after, that the war started, on December 8 in the Philippines.Tenney remembers not hearing much talk at the beginning about going to war with Japan. Once they were told that they were going overseas, they realized that there were problems with Japan. They were not sure they were going to fight Japan until they got to San Francisco and found out that they would be going to the Philippines. That was the first time they knew. Then when they got aboard the ship leaving Hawaii, they were told it was going to travel "blackout" because of Japanese ships and they did not want to take any chances. Tenney felt it was obvious that there was something going on.Upon arriving at the Philippines, Tenney was billeted at Fort Stotsenburg, adjacent to Clark Field, twenty miles out of Manila. He was there until the morning of December 8. At 5:30 in the morning he was told that the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. They were loaded into a truck and into tanks and taken out to Clark Field, where the tanks were put around the field to protect against the potential of Japanese parachuters [Annotators Note: Paratroopers]. They were on alert until the Japanese dropped the bombs at 12:35 that afternoon.Tenney remembered that the Japanese landed around Lingayen Gulf around December 21st or 22nd [Annotators Note: 1941]. His Company of Tanks was ordered there to meet the Japanese. When they went up there, they were told that there would be small arms fire and few troops. They found thirty thousand Japanese troops, flamethrowers, tank guns, armored vehicles, tanks, everything. The whole Army was up there, but they were never told that.Tenney and his Company went there with their tanks but the Post Ordnance only brought enough gasoline for five tanks and they had thirty. Therefore they only had five tanks able to go into battle. The lead tank was hit the very first day on December 23rd and had to get off the road and into a rice patty. The other tanks had to "beat ass out" as there was no way they could get in with no place to go. Not only was there no place to go, but they were against odds of antitank guns and flamethrowers. The other four tanks turned and got out. The first tank that was hit Captain Ben Mornan and all four of the other men were captured on December 23rd. That was the first tank battle of World War II.They went back to their bivouac area in Agoo and were told that they were going to make a strategic withdrawal, otherwise known as a retreat, into Bataan. The "strategic withdrawal" was the artillery leaving first and setting up positions about five or six miles away. Then the infantry left to follow the artillery. Then, the tanks stayed to protect against the Japanese coming in while they were moving back to the rear echelon. Once they got about eight miles back they started the process again and piggy-backed all the way back into Bataan.In Bataan, the Japanese had formed a line at the Pilar - Bagac road, with Pilar on one side and Bagac on the other side, at the base of Bataan. All the Japanese were there. Tenney states that their job was to keep them there. Every few days, there would be a pocket and the Japanese would try to come into their area and the tanks would attempt push the pockets back up again.Tenney remembered that they were promised supplies and some new guns, they were using Springfield rifles from 1917 and they were using ammunition that was thirty-five to forty years old that wouldn't fire, it would clog a gun up. They knew if they were going to get new supplies, new ammunition, and new equipment that they would make it. They kept getting promises almost every day saying that reinforcements are on the way; new arms, and new ammunition. This was designed to keep them fighting, but of course nothing ever came.Tenney realized that the fight was over and that the Japanese would be successful on April 3rd [Annotators Note: 1942]. On April 3rd there was a big push and the Japanese brought in another 30,000 troops on their way to Australia. Their reinforcements were so many that it was at the point where they would fire a machine gun and its barrel would just curl up from the heat and they'd have to move. The Japanese just kept coming one on top of each other. It made no difference. By the 9th of April, it became quite obvious that there was no place to go. They already had water on all three sides and they were already pushed down within 150 to 200 yards of the water. General King [Annotator's Note: General Edward Postell King Jr.] had orders from General MacArthur [Annotator's Note: General Douglas MacArthur] to continue to fight down to the last man, but General King said he couldn't do it. He couldn't see the men slaughtered that way, so he surrendered the forces on Bataan.Surrendering made the men cry, the mere fact that they were surrendering was a horrible thing. Tenney thinks also that the word surrender meant that they would be at the mercy of the Japanese. They had already heard about Americans the Japanese had captured and the rumors of what they did to them. 

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Tenney's first contact with the Japanese was on the morning of the 10th [Annotator’s Note: April 10, 1942] in a bivouac area near Marvales. He heard Japanese voices coming up the road and that was one of the first Japanese he met. They looked at him and started to speak Japanese to him. He didn't know what they wanted. After they said it two or three times and he didn't do anything, they started to hit him and beat him with a rifle butt and a cane. They beat him in the face and the back of the neck until he finally found out they wanted a cigarette. He didn't have one because he didn't smoke so they beat him again. That was his first contact with the Japanese.The Japanese put them all together and made them walk to the road. They stayed there about two or three hours and were not allowed to talk. Some men had their hands tied behind their back and some didn't, it depended on how the Japanese felt. There was no specific way in how they treated the Americans. It was just every man for himself. They were picked up from their bivouac area and if they had shoes on then they wore shoes. If you were picked up without shoes on, then you didn't have shoes that day. If you had a canteen, then you had a canteen. If you didn't have it with you, you didn't have it on the march. There was no such thing as going back for anything. Once they started to push you, you didn't go back because if you went back you were killed.They waited on the road for the Japanese to tell them what to do. Finally after two or three hours, they heard a lot of men marching and then they pushed them into line and that was the start of the Bataan March. Tenney remembered one man said he wanted to go back and get something out of his bivouac area and the Japanese shot him right in the back. There was no question. It doesn't take more than one killing to make you aware of the fact that they are not joking.Tenney noted that he heard a POW [Annotator's Note: prisoner of war] from Europe say that he told the Germans his name, rank, and serial number and "by God that's all I'm giving you!" That wouldn't have happened in Japan. If you said that to a Japanese guard, he would have had a bayonet through you or cut your head off right then and there. Being captured by the Germans was a lot different than being captured by the Japanese.Tenney recalls that there was no food or water on the death march. You kept walking the best way you could. There was no marching, just trudging. Most of the men were sick with malaria or dysentery, or they had gunshot wounds. He didn't think that there was five percent that were really able to make the march from a health point of view.They started to walk and just kept walking. Occasionally, after the second day, they were out of the area of the fighting in Bataan and some of the Filipino people began to throw them food. They would throw them rice balls or sugar cane or banana leaf with a piece of chicken in it. You would grab whatever you could and take a bite and then give it to the guy next to you to take a bite. That's how they survived the first couple of days. There was no form to the punishment by the Japanese of the Filipinos, the Japanese one minute could laugh at the Filipinos for giving them food and then five minutes later take a gun out and shoot them for giving the Americans food. There was no rationale; there was no way of knowing what they would do from one minute to the next.Tenney guesses there were maybe ten Japanese guards to every thirty or forty American men walking. You never knew who was going to be next to you because the Japanese would hit somebody in the back with the butt of their rifle and all of the sudden you were next to somebody else.Different groups marched different amounts of time. Tenney remembers it took him ten days to make the full march. Some made it in four days, some made it in twelve days. He knew one man who made it in four hours on the back of a truck. He thinks he was just in the right place at the right time.Tenney states that usually a man would fall down on the march and the Japanese would yell at him to get up. In most cases they would yell, but he saw a case where the Japanese didn't even bother yelling. A man fell down and the Japanese took a bayonet and stuck him with it. He also saw situations where the Japanese were pushing a man, kicking him and yelling at him to get up, not that he understood them at the time, but it was obvious that they were saying to get up and move on. This went on for three or four minutes. If the man didn't move on, then they would kill him, usually with a bullet. In a few cases it was with a bayonet. In a couple of cases, an officer would come up and would want to show how he did it with a samurai and he would cut a person's head off. In one case they saw the Japanese bury a man alive. He wasn't dead, but they had to bury him. Tenney questions, "What do you do when you are told to bury somebody?" If the person refuses, the Japanese put a gun to his head and shoot him. Then he calls two more men out and says to dig two holes and says put that man in one of the holes. You've already seen what is going to happen and if you say no then you'll be the next one dead. You put the man in the whole and he's alive or they'll put you in the whole and you're dead. Those are the kind of decisions you had to make in many cases on a moment to moment basis.These decisions are the hard things to deal with and the psychological problems that most men from Bataan are facing even today. Tenney feels guilty many times, even today, that he's back, that he's leading such a wonderful life and that a lot of his friends didn't come back. There isn't much he can do about it, but he feels guilty and feels like they were better than him. He thinks that all Bataan survivors feel the same.Tenney and the men on the Death March were headed to Camp O'Donnell, the first prison camp. Once you arrived there it was death warmed over. There was one ration of rice a day, one glass of water if you were able to make it to the spigot, and men were dying at forty to fifty men a day. They were dying from malaria and dysentery; those that had dysentery had body waste all over them and couldn't control themselves. Tenney recalls that the stink was awful and that many of them would go to sleep at night next to a slit trench so that they could roll over a little bit in the middle of the night and defecate into the trench. That is how these men lived and that is how they died.

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Those with dysentery didn't live very long. Dehydration, lack of food, lack of water, the sickness, it was awful. Tenney guesses that in Camp O'Donnell there were about 2,000 men in the camp while he was there. It was awful and there is really no way to describe it. Tenney was only there for four days when he went out on a water detail to bring water into the camp from a little stream. He realized he was able to escape because the guards never counted them and had no idea how many were there. He went out the next day on water detail and hid behind a tree and dropped his pants. The idea behind this was that if he was caught he could say he was going to the bathroom, if they didn't catch him then he could escape. The water detail left him there and within five minutes an American Guerilla tapped him on the shoulder and had been watching the whole thing. Tenney went to camp with the guerillas and was with them for about two weeks until he was recaptured while out on a detail. When he was recaptured he was tortured and then they took him in a truck back to Camp O'Donnell. They tossed him out of the truck when they arrived at the camp.Tenney was sad about the event because his friends back at Camp O'Donnell hadn’t even realized he was away. They had not seen him for several weeks and assumed he was in zero ward - where you went to die. The medics set this barracks up and once you went there you were dying.Tenney was recaptured in the Filipino hut at four o'clock in the morning. He was turned in by a Filipino boy for a reward of a sack of rice. He awoke with a Japanese soldier standing over him and a bayonet stuck through his leg. He had been told to not let them know he had been on the death march and let them assume he was always a guerilla. If the Japanese thought that they were on the death march and escaped, then they would have killed him. The guerillas told him what to say, but it didn't matter as he was still tortured. He was tortured by having his thumbs tied around a piece of bamboo and having the bamboo hung up for a day in a half. He was beaten and also water boarded by having his nose held and having a tea kettle pour water down his throat so it felt like he was drowning. The Japanese would do this until you either died or they got tired. In Tenney's case they got tired and let him go. He was sent back to O'Donnell for a second time and was there about three more days until they started looking for another work detail. He volunteered because he felt like he had to get out of the camp since so many were dying there.Tenney was put into a group of ninety men that were taken back to Bataan on a truck to salvage metal and iron to send back to Japan. He went back with blowtorches and trucks and they had to cut scrap metal and put on trucks to take to Manila. Tenney volunteered for anything just to stay out of the camp. He was in Bataan for about three more months in a bivouac area under tents. Then after the three months, they were sent to Cabanatuan, the new prison camp.Once he got back to Cabanatuan, he was there for about a week until he was told that he and five hundred other men were being sent to Japan. The ninety men that he was on detail with were sent together to Japan. They got the men to Manila and put them aboard a ship. He had no idea why he was picked to go.The ships they went to Japan on were called "hell ships.” His ship had five hundred men in a hold and that ship had just been used for horses and th hold had horse urine and horse manure all over it. Five hundred men were crammed together and had to sit and take turns sitting. They had one ration of rice, one glass of water, and one empty bucket for body waste a day. They lived that way for 32 days going to Japan. If you tried to get out of the hold, then they would shoot you.Upon arriving in Japan, they were taken to an area where they stripped down and were deloused, given Japanese clothes to wear and put aboard a train for a Japanese town named Namuda. They found out the next day that they would be working in a coal mine. Tenney's mine was owned by Matsuai [Annotator's Note: Spelling unknown] with fifty men to a barrack. Certain barracks did exploration, others drilled and other barracks would shovel coal. The barracks would all rotate shifts for work. In the barracks you slept on the floor and were given a mat and one blanket to sleep on. The barracks were divided into rooms with ten rooms and about five men to a room, each with a sliding door, with fifty men to a barracks. There was a latrine at the end of the barracks with four stools or stoops they were able to sit in. The conditions weren't too bad. Their role was to work in the coal mine and that barracks became your home. Their food ration was three rations of rice a day.

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Tenney didn't feel that three rations of rice a day, at about four and a half ounces a ration, was good. He felt it was very skimp. He was 185 pounds when he went to the Philippines and weighed 97 pounds when the war ended. That was pretty standard for surviving POWs [Annotator’s Note: prisoners of war] of Japan.Tenney felt that the men captured from Corregidor were in much better health than those from Bataan. So in Cabanatuan prison camp, the men from Corregidor were in pretty respectable health. They were eating food up to the last day and they didn't make the Death March, they weren't beaten and didn't face malaria or dysentery like the Bataan prisoners. By the time they got to Japan, though, they were just like the Bataan prisoners.The Japanese guards in Japan were mean to the POWs. They would slap you around and you had to bow to them whenever you saw one. That means if you saw one that was three blocks away, you had to face him and bow. If you failed to you were beaten for it. They were very strict on what they did, you followed orders or you were beaten. If you did some of the wrong things you were beaten severely and sometimes put in the guard house. One of Tenney's friends ended up stealing a couple of rations of rice and was put into a torture position where at the end of four days he had to have his legs amputated. This was because he was put on a rack where he had to kneel with bamboo behind his legs cutting off his circulation. So at the end of the four days the American doctors cut his legs off.One man was put into the guard house without food or water for thirty days. On the thirtieth day he died. These are the things that happened; they were inhumane, cruel, sadistic, and barbaric. The things they did were not necessary. The American POWs were working in the coal mines for the betterment of the Japanese economy. What the Japanese should have done was everything in their power to keep the POWs healthy and happy. This is what showed Tenney that they were really barbaric. He feels it would have been so easy to keep the men fed, give them medical care when needed, etc. Instead the men started to break bones to avoid work. Break an arm, leg, collar bone, anything to get out of work. Some breaks would get you a day off of work while others would get you three days off of work. A collarbone would get you four days off of work while a leg would get you three days off of work, an arm would get you two days.Tenney broke a hand and a foot. He said you take your hand and put it on a piece of wood in the coal mine when no one is looking. Then you grab a steel pin that holds the coal cars together. Then you take the pin and put it on your hand and hit it as hard as you can. If you are lucky then it breaks. Then you pour coal dust on it and take a piece of coal and rub it on your arm so you can tell the Japanese it was a cave-in. When the Japanese would come by you would point to the ceiling and show them how it caved in and hit you right there. If you were hurt in the coal mine then you were given full rations when you got back to camp. If you were hurt in camp, you only got half rations. If you didn't go to work because you had a cold, sore throat or malaria, then that was half rations. If you broke an arm in camp, then you got half rations, but if you broke a hand in a coal mine then you got full rations. There were a lot of things you had to know to be a good POW and survive.Tenney worked in the coal mine for three years, every day for twelve hours a day. Every ten days they would have a change of shifts and get a day off. Tenney developed the entertainment in camp. He would write a show, direct it, bring different people in to sing or to act. They would rehearse when they had a chance and then would put on a show when they had one of those ten day breaks. He put on the "Great Siegfried." He had eight of the greatest gay men you've ever heard who ended up dressing as girls for them. They were wonderful people that wanted to dress as girls and dance. They acted beautifully and you couldn't ask for anything better.The Japanese allowed the entertainment after the POWs explained to them that they had very low morale and would work better if they had better morale. They could do shows, but they still had to go to work every day.Tenney never saw a Red Cross person or Red Cross box. They also never received any war news, except for President Roosevelt's death and they were told that the war would end soon.Tenney felt that the Japanese must have believed their government’s propaganda. While he was in prison camp, he had a Japanese worker in the coal mine show him a picture from a Tokyo newspaper that showed a Japanese soldier walking with an American movie star down Hollywood and Vine. The Japanese worker believed that the Japanese were in California! The worker thought the war would be over soon. Tenney also had to assume that the coal miners were of the lower quality of education. They would believe anything, which is why they were in the coal mine. The Japanese that were working with them in the coal mine were ignorant, dumb, lazy and sick. That is where Tenney learned Japanese.

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Tenney did not believe the photo he saw of the Japanese soldier in Hollywood star and started laughing at it. The Japanese coal miner became furious and picked up a shovel and hit him in the face, shoulder and back. He was furious that he wouldn't believe him.Tenney realized the Japanese were losing the war in the first part of 1945. He learned this from the attitude of the Japanese, the bombing raids and the need for the POWs [Annotator’s Note: Prisoners of war] to go to air raid shelters. At one point fighter planes flew over their camp and waved with their wings and took off. The POWs had a pretty good idea what was going on.New prisoners did arrive from Manila, but Tenney thinks the last ones came in around January 1945. These men didn't have any new information as many of them had been in the Philippines as long as Tenney was a POW. They weren't newly captured troops.When Tenney and the POWs saw the fighter planes fly by they knew the war would be over soon. They also saw the explosion of the atomic bomb in Nagasaki because their camp was only 32 miles from there. They didn't know what it was, but they knew something was up. Tenney and the men heard the explosion and saw the big massive cloud. The war ended on August 15th for the POWs and on the 17th, B-29s [Annotator’s Note: American B-29 Superfortress bombers] came over the camp and opened up the bomb-bay doors and started dropping food and clothing by parachutes. The cooks on the planes were opening cans of fruit salad and pouring the cans into 55 gallon drums and put parachutes on the drums and drop the fruit salad down to the prisoners. When the can hit the ground and burst, men would be on their hands and knees eating the fruit salad.Tenney knew the war was over by four things that happened. One, there was no work; two, there was all the rice they wanted; three, Red Cross boxes began arriving; four, the prisoners didn’t have to bow to the Japanese. On August 15, 1945 the Japanese sent the Americans POWs back from work and gave each of them a Red Cross box at 10AM. At Noon they offered everybody all the rice they wanted. Then at 4PM they bowed to the men and didn't make them bow. At 5PM, the Japanese officer came in and said that America and Japan are now friends and then he left.At first, the POWs were so shocked that they didn't seek revenge. On the second day, they went looking for the guards, but they had left. If they hadn’t, the Americans probably would have killed them. Interestingl enough, by the second day, most of the Americans were just interested in girls and whisky. They went into town and would end up in inns and cities and were drinking sake with the girls and the men. They were having fun.Tenney was injured badly in the coal mine and his left arm was going to be taken off by the American doctors. When the war ended, he heard the doctors talking about amputating his arm and he and his friend left. Tenney wasn't going to let them cut his arm off. He had heard news from a George Weller from the Chicago Daily News that came into their camp on August 30th. Weller told them that the Americans had landed on Kanoia [Annotator’s Note: spelling unknown] and that there was such a thing as an Atomic bomb. Americans were still flying over and dropping food to the POWs. When Tenney heard his arm would be amputated, he said to his friend, Bobby Martin, that they had to leave. They got on a streetcar and got to the train station and went looking for Kanoia. Five days later they found Kanoia and found the Air Force there and were flown to Okinawa where Tenney met his brother. His brother had met some other POWs and heard that his brother may be coming through. He stayed there even though he had enough points to go home. Sure enough when Tenney landed, his brother was there and called out his name. He stayed with him for three days at Okinawa. He was taken from there to Manila where they had the 29th Replacement Depot where he had to stay until he gained a little weight. Mid-October he was finally put aboard the Cliffontaine [Annotator’s Note: spelling unknown] and was sent home.Tenney was supposed to go through San Francisco, but instead landed in Seattle. It was a very sad day because they docked in Seattle and there was nobody there to greet them, no officer, no parade, nothing. They got off the ship and felt that the Japanese were right when they said that they were lower than dogs. They were put on a truck that took them to a camp nearby where they were given a place to sleep. The next day they were on a truck and taken to the train station. Tenney got on that train and headed for Clinton, Iowa to the hospital. When they got to St. Louis, they were so embarrassed that they didn't want anyone to know that there were POWs onboard so they pulled the shades down. They were made to feel like cowards or dogs. They were never even said hello to when getting off the docks. They had seen pictures about the boys coming home and waving flags welcoming them. Tenney and these men didn't get a greeting. That has stayed with him all of his life. Not that he was looking for any parade, but he feels it would have been nice to have someone say welcome home and good job after four years of POW camp living.Tenney spent a year in the hospital before he was discharged. Then he went back to school at Northwestern University to get a degree and went to work. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in business and accounting and his Masters degree in Business and his PhD in Finance.

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